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Ratliff v. Wall

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

May 23, 2016

DOMINICK T. RATLIFF, Plaintiff,
v.
Ashbel T. WALL, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          WILLIAM E. SMITH[, Chief District Judge.

         Before the Court is a Third Amended Complaint (ECF No. 19) filed by Plaintiff Dominick T. Ratliff, pro se, an inmate at the Adult Correctional Institutions, Cranston, Rhode Island, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges a number of violations of his civil rights by ACI officials and officers. Ratliff has also filed an Application to Proceed without Prepayment of Fees and Affidavit (ECF No. 2) and a request, which the Court treats as a motion, for Court-appointed counsel (ECF No. 3).

         The Court is required to screen the Third Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A. Having done so, the Court finds, on initial review, that the Third Amended Complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted.

         I. LAW

         In connection with proceedings in forma pauperis, § 1915(e)(2) instructs the Court to dismiss a case at any time if the Court determines that the action: "(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Similarly, § 1915A directs courts to screen complaints filed by prisoners against a governmental entity, officer, or employee of such entity and dismiss the complaint, or any portion thereof, for reasons identical to those set forth in § 1915(e)(2). 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         "The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)B and § 1915A is identical to the standard used for ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." Chase v. Chafee, No. CA 11-586 ML, 2011 WL 6826504, at *2 (D.R.I. Dec. 9, 2011) (citing Pelumi v. Landry, No. 08-107, 2008 WL 2660968, at *2 (D.R.I. June 30, 2008)). The Court must review pleadings of a pro se plaintiff liberally, accepting his well-pled allegations as true, and construing them in the light most favorable to him. Chase, 2011 WL 6826504, at *2 (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 566 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). However, "the Court need not credit bald assertions, unverifiable conclusions, or irrational factual allegations." Id . (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 662). "To state a claim on which relief may be granted, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id . (quoting Iqbal, 566 U.S. at 678).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Third Amended Complaint

         Ratliff filed his original Complaint (ECF No. 1) on October 19, 2015. Because the Complaint was lacking in several respects, the Court ordered him to file a First, Second, and, ultimately, Third Amended Complaint.[1]

         Ratliff alleges that he has been subjected to continuous harassment, discrimination, threats against him, and bookings for frivolous infractions, among other claims. (Third Am. Compl. 1, ECF No. 19.) According to Ratliff, this treatment began when he was housed at the Intake Services Center, continued after his assignment to Maximum Security, and apparently persists to the present. (Id.) Ratliff names as Defendants Ashbel T. Wall, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, Assistant Director James Weeden, Warden Matthew Kettle, Assistant Warden Jeff Aceto, Captain Duffy, Lieutenant Burt, Correctional Officer Gardner, Correctional Officer Largy, SIU Detective Corbral, and Correctional Officer Dove. (Compl. 3, ECF 1.) Ratliff seeks injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, restoration of good time credits, dismissal of his remaining segregation confinement time, an out-of-state transfer, and the return of personal property. (Third Am. Compl. 7-8, ECF No. 19.)

         Ratliff appears to have cured the majority of the deficiencies in his earlier complaints. Reviewing Ratliff's pro se Third Amended Complaint liberally, Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106, accepting his factual allegations as true, Alt. Energy, Inc. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 267 F.3d 30, 33 (1st Cir. 2001), and construing all reasonable inferences in his favor, id., the Court concludes that, at this early stage, Ratliff has stated sufficient facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Accordingly, he may proceed with his Third Amended Complaint.

         The Third Amended Complaint is the operative complaint. However, Defendants are directed to refer also to the first three pages of the original Complaint, as the Third Amended Complaint continues from that point ("Statement of Claim").

         B. Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis

         Ratliff has submitted the affidavit required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) and a copy of his inmate account statement. Although the account statement is not certified by an appropriate official at the Adult Correctional Institutions ("ACI"), as required by § 1915(a)(2), at the Court's direction Ratliff submitted a sworn statement detailing his efforts to obtain a ...


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